an ongoing exhibition, initiated 2011
Embroidered Caps is an exhibition that utilizes the distribution and communication forms of media and the cultural world. The artworks in the exhibition are intended to live like parasites on the body of a host to sustain themselves.
Over an undecided amount of time, artists will be invited to make one customized baseball cap that will stand in for an advertisement within a selected arts magazine. The magazine, placement, and size of the advertisements will change. Expectedly, the advertisements may or may not disappear between the pages of the existing content already produced for the magazine. The advertisements will not state the artists name, only the address of the project’s website. The website will be the recuperating location for all source material of the exhibition. The website will list the artists name and the magazine they are exhibiting within. No images of the advertisement will be included on the websites itself. There will be the possibility to link the viewer to the homepage of the magazine to purchase the selected edition of the magazine.
Nothing for Sale. The caps, the would be products, are individually designed merchandise. None will be for sale. This alleviates the pressure to buy that is usually associated with advertising. All the while, it is still possible, as the viewer, to evoke a sense of want or need for the object presented.
The artistic value of the work is addressed in that it is situated within an arts genre magazine. It becomes the only contextual clue for filing the work/ exhibition under an arts realm. In turn, the purchasing of the advertisement slot helps funding for the magazine with printing, circulation, etc.
It is a multifarious exhibition that looks at distribution, publicness, design, value and commodification. It does not pin down one theme and determine solutions. It creates problems to look at problems. It has extreme potential to fail. The exhibition is a build up, a transparent interpretation of contemporary modes of production. It is an attempt to maximize the potential of what a baseball cap can do as a proxy for the art object.
++++AVAILABLE WORLD-WIDE VERY SOON ++++the participants /
The artists were all invited to participate in Embroidered Caps on the basis of a shared affinity for graphic design, display, visual obfuscation, distribution, publication, fashion, and advertisement. Each artist was identified and contacted on the basis of pre-existing projects outlined beneath each artists name. The list of participants is still expanding at the date of this document’s completion.
Joshua Erb (b.1983, USA) lives and works in New York.
project: founder of
Larry’s - www.larrys.eu
Established in 2007 by Maxwell Simmer, Martin Thacker & Mathieu Malouf, Larry’s is a multi-platform publication and creative initiative of Art,Design & Lifestyle from Berlin. Larrys can be purchased at Printed Matter (NY), Motto Distribution (Berlin), Pro QM (Berlin), or via firstname.lastname@example.org
Why graphic design?
Embroidered Caps turns to graphic design as a proposed solution to two distinctive problems:
1. a mode of artistic production that attempts to excommunicate itself from its supposed origin through incomprehensibility while
2. simultaneously seeking to reach the general public.
Graphic design can be considered a euphemism for “thinking”; both working within the constraints of form (the manner or style of arranging and coordinating parts for a pleasing or effective result) and commissioned to communicate particular messages to specific audiences. The way of working and the way a thing looks can communicate as much of the message as the information (message) itself. At best this is what work-that-comes-from-the- field-of-graphic-design could offer: an extra dimension which first serves to engage a reader and adds a level of seduction to the point being made, more intellectual and compound than a standard consumer-product persuasion.
Graphic design also benefits from the means (in the economic sense of the word) of distribution within the cultural industry’s efficient networks. The field of design varies the forms of interventions from fashion magazines, billboards, conferences, worldwide distribution capabilities, etc.; much more broad than the circuit of fine art. But Embroidered Caps also addresses the problem of the biopolitical, the blurring of art and life that depends on a record of its intervention into the world. And this documentation is what is recouped as art, bypassing the original intent. The art magazine intervention is where we seek to give a home to the documentation. You’re only as “good” as the company you keep. “Guilty” by “association”, etc. A seemingly exclusive circle is joined (breached).
“Form is a weapon. It’s something that cannot be argued with." John Kelsey, artist. (Bernadette Corporation)
The distance this work takes from graphic design (as a stanchion) is the level of understanding or prodding that is attempted. One is of course invited to view the ad, peruse the ad per usual, but in this case is left in a much more obtuse place. Is the viewer abandoned because he/she is unpersuaded? Is it better to see an ad, understand an ad (and what is being hawked) and continue flipping pages? This marriage of graphic design alignment and betrayal is vital to the success of the hijacked advertisement. Disorientation should be read as a heartfelt challenge to the otherwise sterile ad-block and those charged with what to do with it.
Embroidered Caps: an alternative site of publicity
by Colleen Grennan
Advertising remains the most efficient strategy for guaranteed, fast, wide distribution of one’s ideas. For conceptual artists at the height of the printed art publication’s power, ads became a new facet for recognition, demarcation, and subversion of the system at hand. Artists intentionally turned this ‘medium’ on its head. This essay looks at several comparable disruptions and the new voices therein, the cognitive foundations for Embroidered Caps.
In the November 1974 issue of Artforum, artist Lynda Benglis took out a full spread advertisement. In this famous image, the artist appears nude, suggestively brandishing a large, double-headed dildo. During the 1960s and 1970s, magazines became an important new site of artistic practice, functioning as an alternative exhibition space for the dematerialized practices of conceptual art. The everyday, throwaway form of the magazine mirrored and heightened its contingency (its insistence on the actual time and place in which it was encountered). It also became a site of publicity and value inductions for artists and artworks. Benglis’s work was a response to the hyper masculine publicity images being circulated, such as Robert Morris’s poster for his April 1974 Castelli-Sonnabend exhibition, which showed the artist bare-chested, in chains, and wearing a German war helmet. Benglis wanted the advertisement to function as a parody of this charade, “mocking the commercial aspect of the ad, the art-star system, and the way artists use themselves, their person to sell the work. …The placement of the ad, in an art magazine, was important.” (Allen 2011, p25) Benglis had originally requested to use the image in an article being written by Robert Pincus-Witten. However, when then editor, John Caplans refused to run the image to her specifications, he suggested she take out an ad.
While the editor’s intention was to sustain the integrity of the magazine’s editorial section, his suggestion, instead, instigated a strand of criticism from art writers and artists alike. The advertisement rather portrayed the magazine’s role as artist promotor in the most debased sense of the term. The critic Annette Michelson explained, “that the magazine itself is the brothel within which things are for sale. And I did not see myself as the inhabitant of an intellectual brothel.” (Allen 2011, p26) As a result, several Artforum editors resigned - including Rosalind Krauss, Annette Michelson, and Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe - and went on to found the journal October.
Despite this critical denunciation, marketeering became a catalyst for the uprising art market during these years. Artists decided they could subvert the power pull system in place and create new questions and scenarios in the place of simple institutional endorsements. Printed matter, since it had become so well distributed, could now be read as art’s main public artery, it’s bible, rendering traditional practices mere exponents compared to genuine published exposure.
The dealer Seth Siegelaub was among the first to make use of printed publications - including books, posters, catalogues, xeroxed booklets, and magazines - in the display and distribution of conceptual art, explaining in a 1970 interview:
For many years it has been well known that more people are aware of an artist’s work through 1) the printed media or 2) conversation than by direct confrontation with the work itself. … When art concerns itself with things not germane to physical presence, its intrinsic (communicative) value is not altered by its presentation in printed media. The use of catalogues and books to communicate (and disseminate) art is the most neutral means to present the new art.” (Allen 2011, p15)
One artist who keenly identified with the momentous role of publicizing oneself was Joseph Kosuth. He was borrowing tactics instigated by his predecessor, Andy Warhol. He appeared at all the right places, including the back room of Max’s Kansas City in New York, a spot infamously known for drumming up exclusivity. Being seen and socializing at Max’s in the 1960s was the equivalent to receiving an invitation to one of Siegelaub’s distinguished Sunday affairs hosted in his home. (Kosuth was given the opportunity to wear two hats, of both critic and artist, when Siegelaub asked him to participate in the exhibition “January 5-31, 1969”. In the catalogue that supplemented the exhibition, Kosuth appeared in a self-interview with his pseudonym Arthur R. Rose, antagonizing painters and other material producing artists. He later appeared in various art oriented magazines as critic/writer. And openly claimed ownership of the term, “conceptual”. (Alberro 2003)) The artist has been written into history as a cultivator of his own public image. He understood the value of roping the mass media’s attention in his favor. While conceptual art’s most important facet was wrapped in the contextual idea of the piece itself, I believe that the public image procured by the creator also became intwined in that methodology. This was a moment in art that was not driven by mastering skills but fronted by innovation and exception. “Art is no longer a trade to be patiently mastered, it is a mater of doing what no one has done before”, stated a Newsweek article on new art, titled “Way, way out”. (Alberro 2003, p27) A credo shared by the calculative industry of advertising.
In the same vain, artist Louise Lawler recognized the power of the printed media, making use of ephemeral objects such as matchbooks and business cards to advertise information about her upcoming exhibitions. For the 1983 exhibition Borrowed Time, Lawler printed matchbooks with the quote, “Everytime I hear the word culture I reach for my checkbook.” from actor Jack Palance. While Kosuth exerted the persuasion of persona, Lawler printed off the announcements with contemptuous criticality. The matchbooks did not claim to be art objects, however subverted art market publicity tools and are now revered as an artistic operation. They acquire both meaning and value through their mobility, their capacity for exchange, for motion from place to place and hand to hand. (Linkler 1986, p99) The artist and the fabricated persona continue to be indistinguishable. For Lawler’s, Arrangements of Pictures, exhibition in 1982, matchbooks were printed brandishing the name of the gallery Metro Pictures on the cover, Lawler’s name on the back, and the list of artists represented by the gallery such as: Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo, and Sherrie Levine. Lawler was ironically sponging off the notoriety of the major power players of the time. In addition, the matchbooks were produced as if they had come from another source, not Lawler. She had handed over all authorship by printing her name in third person. In this way they functioned like a stamp of art world approval through alignment.
On the polar end of the spectrum, artist Lee Lozano plunged herself into art world obscurity. In 1969, Lozano’s General Strike Piece, which was lifted from her diary and handwritten, states: GENERALLY BUT DETERMINEDLY AVOID BEING PRESENT AT OFFICIAL OR “UPTOWN” FUNCTIONS OR GATHERINGS RELATED TO THE “ART WORLD” IN ORDER TO PURSUE INVESTIGATIONS OF TOTAL PERSONAL AND PUBLIC REVOLUTION. Lozano identified the “non-art” activity of marketing and publicizing oneself as an arresting occupation of the artist and thenceforth quit. This in turn was revamped as a publicity stunt by her representing gallerists, but eventually Lozano did lose contact with the elevating art world. Years later the artist’s work was recuperated by critics and canonized in large-scale retrospectives. “It is only now, with the excavation and attention of curators, critics, and art historians, that her work can be recognized and legitimated,” argued Helen Molesworth, art critic and curator. (Molesworth 2008) This point will be later elaborated on through the writings of Isabelle Graw who argues the legitimation of an artwork by the critic. Also, purported by Dan Graham in his “My Work for Magazines”, stating that the inclusion in art magazines determines the categorical significance of an art work.
Suffice it to say, that with the dissolution of material comes a reliance on provenance and publicity. Kosuth explores more in depth with his work titled “Second Investigation”, which took the form of anonymous advertisements in newspapers and periodicals. In efforts to remove aesthetic experience or materials such as water, air, or painting, Kosuth appropriated the “Synopsis of Categories” at the front of Roget’s Thesaurus. (Allen 2011) He was distributing pure information in the shape of an artwork. It was an attempt to dismantle the wholeness of the fetishized object whilst maintaining a categorical device. Obliterating the commodity status of art through seriality, and with the practice of negation, he sought to fuse the non-art world with the experience of art.
While self supporting placements of advertisements by artists were used as a method of larger distribution, it was also used as a means for intentionally or unintentionally marginalizing the conversation. Seth Price examines this practice in his essay, “Dispersion”, using acts by Joseph Kosuth and Dan Graham as prime examples. Price recognizes the impossibility for art’s incursion into everyday life as the insularity of conceptually difficult artworks.
Kosuth’s quotation from Roget’s Thesaurus placed in an Artforum ad, or Dan Graham’s list of numbers laid out in an issue of Harper’s Bazaar, were uses of mass media to deliver coded propositions to a specialist audience, and the impact of these works, significant and lasting as they were, reverted directly to the relatively arcane realm of the art system, which noted these efforts and inscribed them in its histories.
Without an embedded awareness of art’s history and methods, it is unlikely that all viewers will be able to understand all of (whatever that means) a given work of art. The art world imagines itself as a smaller visage of the bigger more ‘real’ world with the desire to clench its claws within, so states the quotation by Joseph Beuys, “Everyone’s an artist”, and the retort from Martin Kippenberger, “Every artist is a man”. But the indigestible truth is that the culture of art is steeped in the tradition of privacy: the studio as an enclosed private space, the privacy of individualized production of art, the art object as a privately owned good, the intellectual privacy granted to those who are making ‘art for art’s sake’, the privacy of artists’ research processes in coming to create a work of art, the privacy of art’s preparation, the privacy of inaccessible information about the way arts institutions operate in capitalist markets.
As art markets grew, the machine of publicity expanded. Advertising had significant power as publications flourished and target markets grew. When the first magazines devoted solely to art came into inception, first in Germany and then throughout Europe and the United States, they were sponsored by the art academies themselves. The content contained news, information, and promotion rather than critical commentary. Art periodicals during the nineteenth century began to address a more general public; implementing articles on art history, connoisseurship, aesthetics, exhibition reviews, news, obituaries, and biographies of artists. The importance of appealing to the broadening arts-interested upper middle class was subsidized with the rise of purchased ad space. Placements of ads within the art periodicals “assumed the character of an enterprise which produces advertising space as a commodity that is made marketable by means of an editorial section”. (Allen 2011, p17)
“Magazines determine a place or are a frame of reference both outside and inside. Magazines specialize in a “field” — for instance, the specialized “world” of art and artists termed the “art” world. Sports Illustrated caters to those who are interested in sports, the American Legion magazine caters to members of the American Legions. Art magazines cater to artists, dealers, collectors, connoisseurs, and writers who have a professional interest in art. And the art magazine itself is supported by advertisements.” - Dan Graham, “My Work for Magazines”
Artforum, a magazine originally intended as a renegade alternative to the mainstream art press, prided itself as a literary forum, similar to the ancient Roman marketplace as a space for public debate and discussion. They opened their offices in San Francisco and ran the magazine with strict policies providing opposing reviews and including artists’ own remarks as a confirmation or refutation, circulating art biased discourse. “Artforum was founded as a mouthpiece for West Coast artists who felt overlooked by the mainstream New York-based art press, and especially as ‘a counterpoint to Art News,’ which in the 1950s had become the leading art magazine in the United States at the time.” (Allen 2011, p18) However, with the controversial episode of Linda Benglis’ advertisement mentioned prior and the resignation of some of the most refined critics of the time, Artforum’s status began to plummet. Their growing reputation of greed and as a place for watered down art consumption became even more evidential with their relocation to the bigger city in California, Los Angeles, and concluding with a final migration to the capital of advertisement congestion, New York City. In 1969 Donald Judd wrote of the changing tides, “Artforum since moving to New York has seemed like Art News in the 1950s. There’s serious high art and there’s everybody else, all equally low. … Bell and Irwin hardly exist; Greenbergers such as Krauss review all the shows. …Artforum is probably the best art magazine but it’s depressing that it’s gotten so bad and close to the others.” Judd’s words illustrate the primary significance of the critic and the vanguard dependence upon them, like Sigelaub’s understanding that success came to those who managed and publicized their work most strategically.
Fast forward 20 years from the conceptual artists of the 1960s. Self-promoting, branding, and aggrandizing continues. In 1988, America was introduced to the not yet coined genre of gangster rap and the soon to be unraveling spool of controversy and empowerment from a group of under privileged that demanded attention. (The rest of the world would eventually shake hands with the movement. Like most things, it took time for the waves to spread.) “Straight outta Compton” the first single from N.W.A., an acronym for ‘niggaz with attitude’, was aired on MTV albeit in an edited format for censorship purposes. The video features N.W.A. members Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, MC Ren, Krazy Dee, and DJ Yella in compromising situations with the police. A version of everyday life in Compton is played out amid interspersed footage of the unglamorous city, in effect, a dose of reality for most suburban inhabitants. Members of the group are chased down by the police and forced into paddy wagons with guns pointed at their heads. The lyrics are aggressive and reflect the oppression that was deep seeded in people coming from this segregated region of California. There is a telling three second clip when MC Ren is pinned to a car hood by a police officer, the camera angle is positioned down low on the opposite side of the automobile. MC Ren looks into the camera. He’s wearing a black baseball cap with white embroidered letters that read N.W.A. This is the beginning of self-branded, customized apparel. It was an issue of identification. Often, the group was decked out in L.A. Raiders gear, an American football team, helping launch the brand into public demand. The members identified with the team, stating that they looked like them, a gang of rebels and misfits. Black and silver became an iconic fashion pallet. The branding served to function like graffiti during this time, saying, “I’m here. I’m part of this city’s landscape.” In later press material, Ice Cube is photographed sporting a customized cap with his own name embroidered across the face. N.W.A. was never seen without a promotional marker. It was a uniform and it caught on quickly. And more importantly, the self-branding established a value for marketability.
At a small gallery in London, 2010, an exhibition is produced entitled, “Paul McCarthy’s Cap”. Hanging on the wall from a visible screw is an unmarked navy blue baseball cap. The center piece is a donation from Paul McCarthy; mined from the Sammlung Rausch collection founded by the former caretakers of Frankfurt’s Staedelschule, a school for burgeoning artists with an alternative approach to arts education. The following backstory is presented alongside the exhibited works: “At the time Martin Kippenberger was a professor at the school he ordered students to wear a class uniform to ridicule the role of the art school. Those who refused were expelled from class. Included works in the exhibition addressed themes of art school modeling, and metaphorically symbolizes McCarthy’s cap as the swaddling and career training that transforms students to artists in educational institutions; i.e. wearing the artist hat.” There is not much difference between the N.W.A. self-branding cap and the cap previously owned by artist, Paul McCarthy. Both speak the same language of identification through means of brand recognition.
In her recent book, “High Price”, Isabelle Graw draws parallels between the Art Market and Celebrity Culture. She claims that the status of the artist has bridged between artist and celebrity. The art public, when discussing a work by a well-known artist, never refers to the work by its title, but by an often abbreviated version of the artist’s name. If Sotheby’s is auctioning off a screenprint by Andy Warhol, it will be referenced as the “Warhol”. Likewise for a “Koons” or a “Picasso”, etc. Seminal works of art, important to the writings of art history, have been transformed to meek affirmations and reflections of status and luxury. Value is predicated on status rather than the knowledge or the ideological instrumentalisation the work produces. The sum of this theory is wrapped up in the valuation created by the art critic. Art, being a unique commodity, is split into two brackets of value: symbolic and market. The critic, curator, or art historian is an acting agent to assure the symbolic back-up. This can be determined in either aesthetic or historical terms. In Graw’s case in particular, she is acutely aware of her own role in this value-making process: the critic as marketer, advertiser, booster of art value is one that she knows she has played. So while the symbolic value has been designated, the popularity or celebrity status of the artist increases in turn, rolling over numbers in the market. (Graw, 2011) (Warhol’s story of fraudulently claiming success in the realm of the fine art world to climb the corporate ladder of the commercial design industry is a relative anecdote to accompany the above theory. Warhol included a statement that read: “This Vanity Fair Butterfly Folder was designated for your desk by Andy Warhol, whose paintings are exhibited in many leading museums and contemporary galleries.” This validation of the museum, appropriated by Warhol in 1955, has come full circle in a different context but for similar purposes.) (Buchloh 2001, p3)
“The Art / Canapé Nexus” by Esther Leslie, Mute Magazine, March 2011, paraphrases Graw’s book as such: “She marks out an autonomous space for art as opposed to media culture, but autonomy collapses back into dependence as she shows how the art world is a microcosm of the larger world, in which there is no longer any separation of work and life; in which the self is a production, always on show, in which everyone is always performing, self-grooming his or her image, as part of a life work. Artists, like anyone else, constantly monitor their personal aesthetic. They market their own ‘personality’ to the point of self-exploitation.”
This individualized marketing ploy can become complex. Artist did not want to simply place their names in lights to drive sales and demand. To guarantee an intellectual distance, artist ads needed to use the mold created by leading arts publications while skewing them, to create a hybrid; a work that had assumed credibility in a field of advertisements, but set itself apart by making ambivalent the exchangeable commodity.
One of the most interesting and compelling attributes of the avant garde was its ability to excommunicate itself through incomprehensibility. But what happens when the simultaneous goal is to use the circuits of mass distribution? In order to use the delivery mechanism of popular culture, the avant garde needs to utilize its generic forms and language. (Price 2008, p9)
“The question posed by Marcel Duchamp, “Can one make works which are not of art?” stands as an induction for ways to engage with works, ruptures, torrents that don’t look like art or are not valued like art but are significant transmitters and conductors of new thinking, new unveilings, subjectivity and action that traditional art is unable to articulate. This idea calls for an art that wedges itself into the culture at large, assuming the same production, distribution, and consumption.” (Price 2008)
The impetus of the exhibition, Embroidered Caps, is to open up the ideas of distribution, slippages, and hypothetical cramming locations for art to habituate. It takes the ideas of categorization and self-branding that were vital to the Public Relations of the conceptual artists. The exhibition takes the key notes of Seth Price’s “Dispersion” as a point of departure. This text has been in heavy circulation and has played a crux in many exhibitions of the moment. Perhaps an explanation for this popular referencing comes from the evolving modes of production being reconfigured thru the use of Web 2.0 and the role of the producer and consumer blurring and merging into one (adapting its own terminology known as the prosumer). Price’s text is a concise reflection on the role of distributed media in contemporary art practice.
Categorically ambiguous work is becoming standard for most current practices. Throughout the twentieth century artists have tried to subvert the structures of the art world through conceptual strategies and new forms of media in attempts to reach new, broader audiences. Artists like General Idea relied on the excess of popular culture and often found their practice on the barriers of the art world gates. The publication FILE appropriated the format of LIFE magazine, corrupting an already allocated territory for mainstream magazines. “FILE could be placed in the newsstands and, because of its visual familiarity, it could pass through a general distribution system and be picked up by people who would not ordinarily be exposed to this type of work.” FILE was designed to take hold of the subconscious and infiltrate with a viral effect. This method of production was an apt precursor for the strategic, “logo-lifting and ironic playing with the makers of consumer culture”, employed by artists today. From FILE’s humble infiltrator beginnings in Toronto to its New York twinged role as participator and facilitator, becoming the magazine it sought to parody. (General Idea: Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and AA Bronson, 1999)
“We realized that the structure and surplus of our society was such that we could live, like parasites, on the body of our host, off the excess. We knew that we had no entree through the front door of museums and galleries… we chose instead the viral method; utilizing the distribution and communication forms of mass media and specifically of the cultural world, we could infect the mainstream with our mutations, and stretch that social fabric.” - AA Bronson, General Idea
Sometimes during our insomniac stages, we find ourselves aimlessly trolling around the internet, weaving in and out of YouTube, Facebook, and disjointed blogs, always returning to our inbox (probably in hopes of any human contact). However, during these listless hours it is more likely to be greeted by gallery invites or junk mail. And this time the only message awaiting is an offer from a company to purchase a personalized mouse pad. The delirious person awake at 3 am considers the prospect of a personalized mouse pad; a soft, spongey square that was designed by her for her. The need to personalize and the industry that authorizes this conduct is an immediate effect of the prosumer cultural capital that has occurred in the dawn of the Post- Henry Ford era. Responsibility has been allocated to the consumer in an effort to make consumption seem more equal and participatory. The history of the prosumer dates back to the 1890’s with the emergence of two distinct consumer styles: an elitist type and a democratic. Both called for an alternative to the shortcomings of the mass and bourgeois styles of consumption. (Buchloh 2000, p463) It only took one-hundred years to forefront this demand for resurrection from banality and conveyor-line (mechanical) reproduction.
Embroidered Caps invites artists to customize an average baseball cap, allowing their work and identities to be transcribed into normal and unassuming advertisements. It is then up to the audience to literally and figuratively participate, deciding the degree of interest that can be taken in a muted and somewhat strange link to the indexical website, EmbroideredCaps/tumblr.com. This artistic injunction has a complex set of signifiers, commands, and endpoints (products), and offers a liberating antonym to the standard equational exhibition.
How does art production fit into the Post-Henry Ford era, a time shaped by advanced methods of communication, distribution of information, new classifications of consumption, and the proliferation of advertising and the media to an unknowable degree? Again, this goes back to the celebrity status Graw spoke about and the strategic placement of art distributed by General Idea. The artist has positioned herself between the “commercial artists” and the “fine artist”. “The sudden existence of artistic speech mixed in with commercial speech provides a refreshing change of pace. Commercial messaging tells you to buy; artistic messaging encourages you to look and to think.“ So states the philosophy behind the How Many Billboards? project commissioned by the MAK Center in Los Angeles. It is this exact clashing of ideologies that has influenced the Embroidered Caps exhibition. The common denominator of the commercial (business) industry and the art industry is the belief that their message is vital and needs to be considered by potential ‘patrons’. Stemming from the roots of Pop Art, addressing the general public, including everyone in the conversation, the advertisement of artist designed apparel can potentially speak to all. But as discussed earlier, we know this is a contradictive conclusion.
Though seldom addressed, much of conceptual art’s heritage was connected to a problem of self representation. Embroidered Caps follows suit with this polemic. In an age when the multitude is comprised of individual experiences, the individual at the forefront of perception, new kinds of seeing, new types of behavior, and the development of a new public, we are encouraged to manifest ourselves openly and broadcast our attributes. The problem of self-representation or individualization has brought about a capacity of independents. It is here where we find the need for the self-effacing ambush.
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